Cancer warning: Three ‘unexplained’ symptoms that are ‘commonly overlooked’ by patients
Bowel cancer: Dr Amir explains symptoms to look out for
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Cancer is clinically linked to a host of symptoms that usually reflect the cell or organ that has become diseased. Sometimes, however, warning signs can be less evident or ill-defined. An ongoing issue with patients is how often telltale signs of the disease are ignored, particularly when they have no clear cause. Weight loss, pain and lumps that are unexplained could be symptomatic of the disease.
The Cancer Centre explains: “If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss what you’re experiencing.
“This way, your doctor is better able to help make sense of what you’re symptoms mean, perhaps properly diagnose your symptoms and continue to monitor for issues or refer you to a specialist.
“When it comes to cancer prevention, you are your own best advocate.”
The health body lists “unexplained weight loss, unexplained lumps and unexplained pain” as three symptoms that are easily overlooked by patients.
READ MORE: Pancreatic cancer symptoms: ‘A particularly bad odour’ when you go to the toilet is a sign
But oftentimes, sufferers also ignore fever of unknown origin, night sweats, persistent heartburn, mouth or tongue sores that don’t heal, bloating, irregular bowel patterns, and trouble swallowing.
Because cancerous cells don’t have any nerves of their own, the majority of patients will not have pain.
When pain does occur, however, it is usually indicative of a tumour pressing against nerves near the tumour.
Cancer Research UK says: “Researchers estimate that 38 and of 100 people with cancer have moderate to severe pain.
“Pain is more likely with advanced cancer. Advanced cancer means cancer has spread or come back since it was first treated.
“Around 65 out of 100 people with advanced cancer have pain.”
Lumps are common symptoms of cancer that often go unnoticed if they are painless to the touch.
Usually, a lump that is symptomatic of the disease will grow steadily in size over the course of weeks and months.
“Cancerous lumps that can be felt from the outside of your body can appear in the breast, testicle, or neck, but also in the arms and legs,” explains the Cleveland Clinic.
Unexplained weight loss
Weight loss can occur with just about any cancer – but it most often happens with cancers that affect the stomach, pancreas oesophagus and lung.
What’s more, for many people it is the first visible sign of the disease.
Scientists believe cancer releases substances into the blood that affect how the body uses calories from food.
That, and the fact that cancer cells require more energy than healthy cells, could potentially explain why weight loss is commonly seen in patients.
According to Doctor Richard Levine, medical director at Moffitt Cancer Centre, weight loss of more than five percent over a six to 12 month period may be a cause for concern if it is unexplained.
The expert explained: “In studies that examined the causes of unintentional weight loss, five to 37 percent of patients were eventually diagnosed with cancer.
“But it is not always indicative of cancer, and there are many other causes.”
While there’re no sure-shot ways to prevent cancer, evidence shows a large number of cancer result from poor dietary habits, so leading a healthy lifestyle is important to avert the disease.
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